The Arts Scene: Artist loves unpredictable alcohol inks

What amazed me when I first viewed an artwork by Sarah Robison was the blend of vibrant colors showing through a glossy sheen. I spoke to her about what her medium and process was, and she shared that it is a result of using alcohol inks and applying a layer of glossy, protective resin.

“I started painting with alcohol inks at the beginning of 2018,” Robison said, “after stumbling upon a few different abstract artists on Instagram that used alcohol ink. I had never seen anything like it, and was determined to learn the techniques myself. It ended up being the perfect creative outlet for me as a stay-at-home mom. “

Robison graduated from Brigham Young University, Idaho in 2013 with a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in photography. Before college, her artistic interests spanned everything from ceramics and sculpture to drawing and and painting, but photography became her main interest.

“I worked as a wedding and portrait photographer off and on for a few years after graduation,” she said, “but became busy with raising a family and supporting my husband through medical school.”

She loves the shapes, lines and textures the inks form as they dry. “Many of those forms are reminiscent of landscapes and other organic matter such as rock and water, so I gain most of my inspiration from the natural world,” she said.

“Each painting is a kind of conversation of sorts, with many fluid art techniques. It’s almost impossible to control or know exactly what the ink will do. So I respond with different techniques as I watch and see how the ink is behaving and modify as I go in order to achieve the composition I want.”

She primarily paints on Yupo paper (polypropylene), but also paints on other substrates such as ceramics, canvas and clayboard.

“I dilute the inks to varying strengths,” she said, “and use mainly a hair dryer or my breath to move the inks around to create my compositions.”

You can see the artist’s new workJan. 9 in the Cellar Gallery below Gilbert Cellars’ tasting room at 5 N. Front St. in Yakima.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. He writes this column for Thursday’s SCENE section.Learn more at

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